Fusion vs. Fission

If polywell fusion is developed, in what ways will the world change for better or worse? Discuss.

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KitemanSA
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Postby KitemanSA » Mon Jun 28, 2010 6:43 pm

cksantos wrote:
KitemanSA wrote:
cksantos wrote:So why dont we have bombs filled with powered DU?
Why would you? What folks have just said is that the danger from DU is chemical, not radiological. And chemical weapons are banned.
Ahh I see. So radiological weapons are not mentioned in international law?
I guess the question becomes what you mean be "we". If you mean "we" the US or other civilized country, then "banned" makes a difference. And the question of "radiological weapons" wasn't part of the question; (why don't we have... they are banned). If by "we" you mean the terrorists, then I don't know. You'd have to ask "yourselves".

K?

chrismb
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Postby chrismb » Mon Jun 28, 2010 7:22 pm

Just to take a yet bigger excursion away from the thread topic, I never quite understood why biological weapons are so condemned. I mean, OK, limit which bio agents you can use, but I'm looking forward to the day when someone develops a bio weapon that gives people a poorly tummy and bad headache so that they have to go home to mummy and tuck in bed with a hot water bottle. I mean, isn't that a weapon worth developing? A weapon of mass indigestion, or similar?

I like the idea of smell weapons as well - something that stinks so bad, but is otherwise harmless, that you are compelled to run away!

Maybe one day the UN could develop a 'Minsitry of Peace' which holds weapons of mass distraction that they can drop on everyone in a combat zone that causes everyone to forget what they are doing and to wander off home.

Anyhows, in answer to the question, yes, actually, I think it might still be a bit too early for fusion. The problem is fission. Fission just works so darned well!

The only reasonable argument is that fission produces more long-lived waste than fusion. To be honest, I think that is a really thin argument. Fusion waste lives for a shorter time simply because it is far far more radioactive and the waste has a shorter half-life. All this cobblers about fission being bad and fusion being good - don't put too much belief into those kinds of arguments.

Fission is good, and it's good for several hundred years yet, at least, and that's just from known reserves [don't forget reprocessing and fast-breeders]. The lust for fusion is like alchemy. Alchemy lead to an understanding of chemistry, but even so it still took a few hundred years to make use of chemistry as a science. The difference is that fusion is not just a new gadget or technology, it is THE single technology that is going to run on until the end of humanity itself. There is no other basic level of new technology that you can conceive of that will hold such a significance as being the first person/people to get fusion to reveal its secrets. Therefore, fusion is, actually, a vanity of sorts, just as alchemy was.

MSimon
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Postby MSimon » Mon Jun 28, 2010 7:59 pm

I'm so vain.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

cksantos
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Postby cksantos » Mon Jun 28, 2010 10:24 pm

KitemanSA wrote:
cksantos wrote:
KitemanSA wrote:
cksantos wrote:So why dont we have bombs filled with powered DU?
Why would you? What folks have just said is that the danger from DU is chemical, not radiological. And chemical weapons are banned.
Ahh I see. So radiological weapons are not mentioned in international law?
I guess the question becomes what you mean be "we". If you mean "we" the US or other civilized country, then "banned" makes a difference. And the question of "radiological weapons" wasn't part of the question; (why don't we have... they are banned). If by "we" you mean the terrorists, then I don't know. You'd have to ask "yourselves".

K?


By we I meant Americans not terrorists, geeez, cut me some slack. LOL
Does anyone have a link handy on what weapons are legal/illegal in international war crimes law.

This fusion fission issue seems moot given the economic pressures of a successful polywell demonstration. Anyway you cut it the benefits of polywell will be more of an enabler of new disposal methods than a hindrance of breeder reactors.

D Tibbets
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Postby D Tibbets » Mon Jun 28, 2010 10:34 pm

Noxious biological weapons are nothing new. Tear gas is a good example. Some sieges were broke, not through force of arms, but because the besieging army was so sick with dysentery, etc that they gave up and went home. Of course these biological noxious agents were not very precise in their action, a goodly number of the victims died. The Russian use of anesthetic gas in a theater before raiding it was the same idea, though again, the results were not very percise, a number of hostages died. A more effective noxious weapon may be the US's microwave weapon that heats the superficial layers of the skin so much that people quickly decide to be somewhere else.

Concerning powered plutonium. Sure, if you are interested in dispersing it with a dirty bomb (chemical explosive) it makes sense. But in a nuclear bomb, any plutonium that does not fission (~20-30% in a modern weapon) will be vaporized anyway. Why have it in powdered form as that would possibly interfere with the function of the bomb.

Dan Tibbets
To error is human... and I'm very human.

jsbiff
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Postby jsbiff » Tue Jun 29, 2010 1:51 pm

"You're so vain, you probably think this post is about you."

Anyhow, with regards to waste products, I think it comes down to the fact that most of us think it's easier/more statistically probable to successfully contain something highly radioactive for a short period of time, than to contain something moderately radioactive for enourmously long periods of time.

Anyhow, I thought p-B11 fusion doesn't produce *any* radioactive waste?

My understanding is that D-D fusion doesn't directly produce any radioactive waste (that is, the resulting helium isn't radioactive), but that the neutrons released by the D-D fusion will turn the structure of the reactor somewhat radioactive? Do I understand that correctly?

Back to the topic at hand, someone mentioned that you *can* burn radioactive waste in a Polywell, but is that likely to happen? Does the 'burned' nuclear waste produce additional energy in such a configuration (so that the disposal of the waste basically pays for itself, so there is strong economic incentive to do this)? Or, are we talking about being able to dispose of the waste, but with no revenue generated (other than the revenue generated by selling the fusion power, so that at best, waste disposal becomes a no-loss/no-profit enterprise)?

As for the accellerator-based techs that someone mentioned - if Polywell reallly works, is there still a compelling business case for those accellerator based designs?

MSimon
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Postby MSimon » Tue Jun 29, 2010 2:07 pm

Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

D Tibbets
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Postby D Tibbets » Tue Jun 29, 2010 5:49 pm

Not touched on in this thread is the fusion -fission hybird. A Polywell, FRC or DPF might provide enough neutrons to drive a thorium (or uranium breeder) fission reaction. The advantages are that the fusion neutron source does not need to reach breakeven (how close does it have to come?). The fission side makes up the differwence. Advantages include safty issues- not hovering on the edge of criticality, potential to further process fission byproducts, and an extended fuel supply allowing for much longer times before we run out of fuel.

This has been discussed on other threads.

Dan Tibbets
To error is human... and I'm very human.

chrismb
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Postby chrismb » Tue Jun 29, 2010 8:52 pm

DavidWillard wrote:
chrismb wrote:Maybe one day the UN could develop a 'Minsitry of Peace' which holds weapons of mass distraction that they can drop on everyone in a combat zone that causes everyone to forget what they are doing and to wander off home.

Like connecting every soldier to each digitally and just pipe in YouTube access to declare a cease fire? I know one guy who sent me 50 darn video links an hour in instant message chat alone!

If we could identify the actual combatants and protagonists, then I might agree with any scheme at all!! What I would actually promote is to give the UN enough power and authority to take the two leading protagonists in a dispute and stick em both in a padded cell together. One must be dead before the other is allowed out. Simple... That way, these supposed leaders will have a closer and more intimate experience of the death that totally innocent people experience at the hands of their armed forces.

The reality is that in this current day and age, who the hell knows who are the protagonists and who started it. Just make 'em see sense by sending them home to mummy to think it over.

ladajo
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Postby ladajo » Tue Jun 29, 2010 11:53 pm

DavidWillard wrote:
DavidWillard wrote:
cksantos wrote:So why dont we have bombs filled with powered DU?


You could, but that would be a radiological weapon, if used in a conventional warhead. There was actually a dirty bomb plan for the Germans in WWII to just shoot a rocket from a submarine with nuclear waste and leftover reactor products into New York or Washington.


2 kilogram shells fired out of a GAU-8 30mm rotary cannon on the A-10 Thunderbolt I or II hits like a bomb and vaporizes on contact. Slices through thick steel armor like a hot knife through butter and disperses a gas of vaporized Uranium in it's wake. It already hits like a bomb anyway.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GAU-8


That is why we have made great efforts to burn up all the DU inventory and not make more. Several guidances went out over the last years to use DU first, and make it go away.
It is a round of the past.

cksantos
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Postby cksantos » Wed Jun 30, 2010 6:24 pm

DavidWillard wrote:
cksantos wrote:
KitemanSA wrote:
cksantos wrote:So why dont we have bombs filled with powered DU?
Why would you? What folks have just said is that the danger from DU is chemical, not radiological. And chemical weapons are banned.


Ahh I see. So radiological weapons are not mentioned in international law?


Actually the casing on most nukes is made from Uranium and depleted Uranium since it's a wonderful ablative for re-entry through the atmosphere as a heat shield. It's hard and denser than lead.

When the a nuke detonates, you get a higher yield from from all the fast neutrons hitting it and causing more fissions.
Most thermonuke weapons are fission, fusion, fission(center of the bomb at the hydrogen fuel), and a dirty fission from the casing(depleted).
Heck even depleted Uranium might photofission from just the X-rays and Gammas pouring out of any nuke, be it a clean, non fissile trigger or not.

A real crowd pleaser if they salt the things with Cobalt, Zinc, Tantalum, and Gold. It could be the end of us all if a few dozen were shot off. Is that scary enough to stop making them?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salted_bomb

In the TV Series, "Jericho" if those nukes had been cased with large amounts of salting, it would have been the end of the planet, let alone the population of the US.


Wow, I wonder if Iran would pursue this strategy in their quest for nukes.


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